Raiders to Las Vegas

Personally, I can’t wait. Las Vegas is a suburb of California. I will be happy WHEN the Raiders move to Las Vegas because … I love me some Vegas. Do you hear me? I don’t gamble on sports; I’ve played blackjack on one of my nights in Vegas. That’s it. I’m all about family entertainment.

The NFL on the other hand, wants you to think it is against gambling. BSP in our cynical way, knows otherwise. The NFL wants your money, and it knows the reason NFL ratings never go down is because of the gambling enterprise. Ladies and gentlemen, that is fantasy football. Fantasy football gets money to the league, keeps people buying the Sunday Ticket package, and gets very casual viewers to pay attention to games they might not necessarily care about.

A team trails by 15 points with eight seconds left. The trailing quarterback throws a touchdown pass. Okay. The kicker kicks an extra point, and you’re screaming at the top of your lungs! You’ve won your matchup today, on a play that was meaningless in the outcome of the game. You watched to the end. The league loves you.

When the NFL wants you to know what it thinks, it assigns the task to Monday Morning Quarterback of Sports Illustrated. MMQB says this:

The short-term future question is this: will there be 23 owners besides Jones sanctioning a move by Mark Davis and the Raiders to Las Vegas, even assuming a workable stadium financing plan? This would require 1) owners who are indifferent or adversarial toward Davis and his family to now support him and, more importantly, 2) a willingness to embrace gambling in a town built upon the industry.

Usually, when presented with a question such as this, the answer is always the same: follow the money.

Follow the money, and follow the Raiders to Las Vegas. If Mark Davis gets the financial backing from Nevada and can move the team there, the owners trying to stop the move are going to get sued big time. He’d for sure win, just like his dad did when he left Oakland. Mark Davis is finding out his lineage doesn’t mean nearly as much as how much cash he has in his bank right now.

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Okay, Raptors…

In case you didn’t notice … and its easy not to notice on a Saturday night, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-84 last night. The NBA Eastern Conference finals is now a 2-1 series.

Last night, we saw some finger waving and “energy” from the Raptors, specifically Bismack Biyombo. A lot of smiling and laughing. Big rebounding numbers.

Where was this Biyombo when the Raptors were getting destroyed in Games 1 & 2? From what I saw, this series was in danger of being a sweep. As far as BSP is aware, the  NBA plays playoff games on both the road and at home. If this guy is going to be Mr. Smiley and Mr. Laughter in home games only, the Raptors have only two games left in their season.

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The Joy of being on Large Cruise Ships?

We just returned from a cruise on Carnival’s newest and largest cruise ship, the Vista. Vista is beautiful. Vista is wonderful. Vista is huge.

I was just watching the Steve Harvey Show, where he noted Royal Carribean is sailing the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, in the Mediterreanean. They gave away a trip on board this ship. I was like, wow. An even larger cruise ship. 

Here’s the deal: Large cruise ships mean a large number of passengers. It does not necessarily mean a better experience. When we sailed on Liberty of the Seas a few years ago, we made note how crowded the elevators were. It’s actually part of our decision to use another cruise line regularly. Royal Carribean has beautiful ships, but there’s simply too frickin many people on board. It makes availability for events more difficult. When you go on excursions, everyone is trying to get off that ship. A thousand more people getting off the boat in a minimally increased amount of space is painful.

Bigger in the case of cruise ships is not always better.

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International Air Travel

Did I write about our international air travel?

Before I get into that, let us mention the EgyptAir tragedy. Prayers go out for those who had friends and relatives on board that aircraft. Don’t jump to conclusions. The reason that plane went down is currently unknown, and will remain unknown for a period of time.

By the way there’s no smoking in lavatories on aircraft, and that rule exists for a good reason.

Anyway, I’m writing about the variances we experienced in our travels. We flew into New York – Kennedy. There are multiple terminals at Kennedy Airport. Delta renovated its terminal there recently, and it’s fairly nice. Unfortunately, we were doing international travel and we had to go to Terminal 1, where multiple airlines depart, including our flight on Alitalia. 

Terminal 1 is a different world. The first thing you notice upon entering Terminal 1 is tobacco smoke. Smoking has largely been banned in public places in the United States, and that’s a good thing. It has NOT been banned elsewhere; it’s actually fairly popular. If you’re in Terminal 1, you’ve left the United States behind. 

I’ve also noted in Terminal 1, you have left TSA behind. You’re getting rigorous checks. I have TSA PreCheck. It means little, except you have a less long line. The security checks are somewhat interesting, because you get screened before departure and during arrival. The same was true in Rome and Atlanta. I haven’t even gotten to Atlanta yet; that’s a different level of madness.

The method of boarding. Air China, their passengers were boarding a 747-8, the Intercontinental. The ones lining up did so in an orderly fashion. By the way, the Chinese are EVERYWHERE. I think it’s kind of cool because if you want peace, you have to have people with an understanding of other cultures. Anyway, our Alitalia passengers just got together in a group and filed onto the jet, no matter where it was. Because we were late departing, the aircraft commander actually backed away from the gate before passengers were seated. The airline gets fined for every minute they are at the gate. That’s a first for me, I had never heard of that.

So we flew off to Rome, on an Alitalia A-330. The flight was absolutely perfect, other than the fact A-330 seats are miniature. If you’re flying these days, you want to be 5’3″ or less. When you’re 5’6″ and squeezing into a seat, it’s unrealistic. Airlines try to get an ever increasing revenue stream, and their favorite method is to get a paying human into every square centimeter of an aircraft. 

It also means carry-on restrictions because the weight isn’t getting revenue. Airbus sucks out loud, because they have modified the interior of airplanes — overhead bins — so bags that used to fit, do not. Boeing does too but not to the same degree. That’s why you now see Airbus in service with U.S. airlines. Of course, the second worst thing flying prior to their merger, U.S. Airways, loved themselves some Airbus. 

We arrive in Rome; after customs, we do more screening. It seems there’s no trust between TSA and EU screening, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. EU screening is more intensive than TSA. TSA lets you know when they go through your stuff. The EU does not. They went through my wife’s bag and moved items around. Then again, we do not know these were security personnel. It could be airport employees  going through luggage looking for gifts.  Never put anything valuable in your checked luggage. I always put my clothing in space bags; they have a much tougher time messing with them without you noticing. Always check your bags before leaving a terminal, for potential claims. Space bags also prevent exposure of clothing to the environment.

At Rome, we were told our carry-ones were too big, so we had to check them. Ok, we didn’t have to pay but we had to take stuff out of them. Hmmm. We only had an hour flight, right?  When we arrive in Trieste, one of the wheels on my wife’s carry-on is broken off. I’m currently looking for a replacement wheel.

Barcelona. You have to understand it’s not TSA. I went into the strip down laptop out mode but Barcelona didn’t make us do it. Then Delta had us go through “enhanced screening.” This is a thorough search, where you get every item you are carrying run through a scanner. So you are getting every item looked at twice … so far. At least there’s no smoking there.

Atlanta is a hub for Delta traffic. Multiple international flights arrive in Atlanta at once. This is not good, because you get rescreened there. No TSA PreCheck, everyone gets a thorough screening. You also receive your checked luggage there, and hand it off to Delta employees for additional screening! Here’s the bottom line at Atlanta: If you’ve arrived there with less than 90 minutes before your next flight, start the rebooking process. We had three hours before our flight back to Texas. We had a little over an hour left when we emerged from the security checkpoint.

I didn’t describe the actual screening techniques used, but it should be clear: passengers are always viewed with suspicion but your accompying luggage is a bit of an unknown. You are completely at the mercy of airport workers. I used to be a baggage handler for an airline, and it would surprise most people to find out what passes for cargo. A flimsy lock they can open whenever they want stands between airport workers, your personal items, or even worse.

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Visited Athens for the first time yesterday. What a gem! We visited the Acropolis and Corinth Canal. Both were amazing! 

Friendly people, beautiful weather and a general great time. Other than the transportation strike and … something else … it was an all-round great time. Greece is awesome.

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Oh, Croatia, sailing there and sailing away…

Visited Dubrovnik yesterday. It’s a beautiful place. We toured the city and on the way out, observed the islands on the Croatian coast.

Today we ported at Kotor, Montenegro. One of our touring partners compared it favorably to Alaska due to its stark beauty. I’ll post a pic or two later.

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A slight, potentially helpful change to your RV…

Last time we went camping, my wife complained because of the hot lights. Well, I guess she forgot because there’s no mention of the latest improvement I made … LED lights. Here’s the deal: LED lights don’t emit nearly as much heat as the incandescent lights the manufacturer installed at the factory. They certainly don’t use as much power as the incandescent lights so they will help you with power consumption.

Here’s another item of interest: Saving money. Look to Amazon for less expensive but questionable parts for your travel trailer, and these LED lights are no exception. I am working long hours this week so I didn’t get a chance to actually power up the RV. I might drag the battery over there this week to give it a try but I’m sure the LED lights will work. The light will be a bit on the harsh side, but it’s nothing compared to heating your travel trailer up with those lights during a Texas summer.

I went to Camping World a couple of weeks ago. Great selection, but the prices are absolutely ridiculous. I’m wondering why Camping World even bothers to sell stuff you can get at Wal-Mart or Amazon? The reality is, I purchased a 10-pack of LED’s from Amazon for the price of a single light from Camping World. That’s right, the same light that cost me $1.98 at Amazon cost $19.98 at Camping World.

If you’re in an RV, you are always on the lookout for getting your vehicle prepared for travel and living, with the best possible gear at the lowest possible price. I don’t understand Camping World. They seem as if they are out to soak the RVer for every dime possible. I saw a part to connect my Weber Q1200 to the trailer’s gas supply for ~ $42. Okay, but I saw  a similar part to connect the same grill to a propane tank for ~ $39. I can get that same $39 part at Walmart or Lowe’s for $21. Like I said, I don’t know why Camping World soaks people like that, other than to enrich themselves off truly desperate customers.

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